God gives us major challenges. His calls to holiness, godly behavior, righteous lifestyles, purity, unselfishness, and the Lordship of Jesus Christ are major, continuing calls. These calls demand focus, commitment, and sacrifice from each of us.

Perhaps of all God's calls, the call to be His family is among the most difficult. "Why? Those other calls seem much more demanding than His call to be family!" The call to be family is difficult because it seems easily attainable. We all see holiness, godly behavior, righteous lifestyles, purity, unselfishness, and surrender to Jesus' Lordship as way beyond human ability. However, we consider being family as "very doable."

We may not grasp God's call to be family. It involves helping the weak, loving the unlovable, strengthening the burdened, rejoicing with the blessed, encouraging the strong, and forgiving each other. We are God's family because He is full of mercy and grace. Therefore, we use lots of mercy and grace with each other.

God's family at West-Ark grew this week. We had two births. Courtney Strong and Jeff Tucker were immersed into Christ to put on Christ. Courtney (Kevin and Deborah Strong's daughter) has seriously considered baptism for a few years. Jeff Tucker (David Burn's close friend) has worshipped with West-Ark for about three years. We are delighted both of them are part of this family! May we be God's family to them!

Susan Tygart and Sean Doyle share a special feeling of closeness to West-Ark. They plan to be married May 19 in our building. Their wedding will be simple. Their desire is for the wedding to have a "sense of family" by including their West-Ark family. The music will be congregational singing. They will have no professional photographer because they want no distractions from "the family moment."

The wedding is planned for 10 a.m. that morning. Since they are combining two households, the only "gift" they would like is the "gift" of a finger food fellowship in the Family Life Center. They would like for "their family" here to bring finger foods for an informal occasion of fellowship after the wedding. They do not wish to burden the congregation with showers, wedding gifts, and a fellowship. They just want us to share the moment with them.

Susan and Sean find great joy in their association with their spiritual family at West-Ark. They love us for the bond we share together in Christ. Nothing could make their moment of commitment more meaningful than sharing it with us as family.

May West-Ark be God's family. May we do more than exist. May we accept God's enormous challenge to be family. May we reflect Jesus' light to the weak, the struggling, the burdened, the strong, and the joyful. May we rejoice together in Jesus' Lordship.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 15 April 2001

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